While rummaging through the bottomless, unfiltered pit that is the Steam indie store, I discovered an odd duckling called, Home Security; an obscure and low-budget indie horror game that seemed to attempted to merge Scott Cawthon’s Five Nights at Freddy’s and Shawn Hitchcock’s Lilly Wants to Play. The key word here is “attempted” because Home Security is a messy pot that is missing crucial ingredients. Home Security was published on September 21, 2018, by Toshihiko Kikuchi.
This odd, uncooked duckling is about a recluse sister trying to protect her brother from unknown forces that are trying to get inside their house. She must muster up the courage to leave her room, protect her brother, prevent the invaders from breaking in, and survive for five nights. This short synopsis sounds intriguing, but this is as far as it goes. The indie game does not offer a coherent story and what plot is presented is not told eloquently.
If you believe you aren’t a competent writer, then use visual storytelling to offer your narrative. My favorite example of visual storytelling is the Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNAF) franchise because it rarely uses exposition to deliver its narrative. This franchise demands the player explore every inch of the environment to find clues and symbolism to complete the story. This is an aspect that Home Security is sorely lacking in, and it would tremendously help keep the player immersed, having the player explore the decrepit house to piece together the narrative, while still offering a fun horror experience.
Now, if Home Security has no desire to have a captivating plot and its sole desire is to offer good horror fun, then that is fine. However, it still needs to offer a story that can be well grasped. Take Lily Wants to Play for an example: it has the simple narrative of a pizza delivery guy being lured and trapped in a spooky residence. He has to play with Lily for the night and abide by all of her rules if he wants to survive. Bam! Done! It’s not complex, but it is simple and clean, unlike Home Security. Why are the neighbors trying to kill you? Why now? Where are the parents? If the house is occupied, then why does it look old and run down? Why are the neighbors ghoul like creatures?
Obviously, the narrative subject is a bust, so we need to take a critical eye to the game-play. In Home Security, you must survive each night for ten minutes, and each night adds a new mechanic. The first night is simple enough; you run through the house to keep all the windows barricaded, wind up the brother’s music box, and return to the room once in awhile to keep your health from depleting.
I did notice some glaring flaws in the game-play. First problem: You can’t sprint in the house that has two floors and a multitude of rooms to check. A limited sprint mechanic would be quite useful because if more than one window breaks, you might as well reset the night since you won’t be fast enough to get to both windows. Second problem: you can’t exactly pinpoint the fallen barricades. Yes, you can hear from which direction it’s coming from, but you won’t be able to tell what floor it’s on. If you mistake it for the wrong floor, then you’re doomed.
The second night adds a new mechanic, where you must control a small remote car in the neighbor’s house to prevent them from shooting at you. If you don’t stop the shooter, once you enter the safe room; you will be shot and killed. I like this concept because it makes the player more twitchy of switching between the neighbor’s house and your home. You must prioritize between homes, making sure neither of them are about to kill you. However, the drawback is that controlling the small remote car can be unresponsive and slippery. At times, you can’t find the shooter and if by some miracle you do, you take the shooter out and return to the safe room to discover an arrow has pierced your heart.
The last aspect that Home Security could redeem itself with is the atmosphere and the ambiance. Sadly, both are not worth writing home about. I feel like I have seen this atmosphere a dozen times before. The house has no interesting design, secrets, or visual storytelling. What reason is there to explore a house that’s so plain? Disparity has no special connection to Home Security because I guarantee you have heard every sound design from billions of other games.
I couldn’t complete Home Security because of its abundance of problems. The lack of a story, atmosphere, ambiance, and frustrating controls broke my drive to finish it. That is a shame because there are good ideas that would make a fun horror game, but it’s buried deep beneath a mountain of flaws. When a patch comes out to fix the majority of its flaws, then I will go backbeat it. However, for now, Home Security is a disappointment with wasted potential.